| Thru the Falls for The Summit of Lincoln
January 18, 2010
Mount Lincoln (14,286')
Climbers: Paul Doyle, Chris Duval, & Darin Baker
Trailhead: Montgomery Reservoir
Route: WI 2 (Water Ice rating) climb into Lincoln Amphitheater
Distance: ~4.5mi RT (roundtrip)
Elevation Gain: ~3400'
Time to Complete: 8hrs
Gear: Ice tools, set of 60m/8.5mm half-ropes, 7 screws (1 15cm, 5 19cm's, 1 22cm), v-threader, Trango Alpine Equalizer (anchor rigging), prusiks, harness, ATC Guide, helmet, crampons, & traditional winter attire.
Resources Used for Trip Planning: Roach's Colorado's Fourteeners for Lincoln Amphitheater route description; and prior knowledge of WI routes in area, however Mountainproject.com is also a resource that can be used if one were to climb the ice at Lincoln. Weather report (accessed here on 14ers) was used too.
Each winter, my climbing partners and I go to Lincoln Falls to ice climb the various routes there. Over the years, this idea usually comes up, "hey, someday we should climb through the falls some day and go to the summit of Mount Lincoln!"
That idea and the day finally came to fruition.
Chris and Paul picked me up at my house at 5:30am on Monday morning, Martin Luther King Day, and we made the drive to the trailhead located near the Montgomery Reservoir.
We pulled up sometime around 7:30ish, and stepped into pleasantly surprising mild
weather. No wind. Very few clouds. And it was probably in the low 20's. "Are we at Lincoln Falls?"
We were on our way by 8am, walking along the road on the NW (northwest) side of the reservoir, which is a hardpack walk on snow, but very little snow for this time of year.
Chris commented that he doesn't remember the boulder field (on the approach) ever being this bare in January before.
Seems more like early season conditions in regards to snow depths. Sigh…I hope we get some big dumps before winter is over.
We noticed a climber starting the main flow of ice (a.k.a., "bowling alley" and/or "Scottish Gullies") while on our approach. Which was no consequence to us because our goal was the low angle ramp, located up and to climber's right of the main flow.
Our (approximate) route through the boulder field, ice, and beyond into the amphitheater.
I wanted to do one pitch versus two so we could get through it quicker, plus with three of us it would be slower as it was. That's also why we brought half-ropes, so I could lead and then I could bring up Chris and Paul while they simul-climbed.
We stopped by the "rescue tree" at the base of the first pitch of the main flow and cramponed up for the ascent up the icy/snowy shallow gully that leads to our belay.
Chris coming up the gully leading to our belay, while Paul negotiates a short rock step.
The view of our climb from the belay…
While packing for this trip, I was trying to stay light since I would be climbing ice with a pack, which I haven't done this season. Therefore, I brought my alpine bod (harness) to climb instead of my bulkier and heavier Petzl Calidris. Instead of taking my ice-clippers off my Petzl, I used a couple of wire gates and flipped them around the front of my bod to hang screws from, which worked ok.
Another decision I had to make was about my tools. I've been climbing leashless for three seasons now, however my tools are designed for ice/mixed only (they're the Trango Mantis, and except for the green color, they're exactly the same as the Madam Hook). Therefore, they won't work for an alpine environment, which I thought I might need/want an axe for the ascent of the peak itself. So I brought one of my Trango's and a DMM Fly, which has a straight shaft, a good spike, and a leash. I bought this tool for a second on steep snow climbs. The DMM would also be my axe for the second half of the climb, but I opted to leave it at the gear stash and used a trekking pole instead.
So here I am, with a (safe but) rigged alpine bod, a leash around my hand (oh what a horrible feeling), a 20something pound pack on my back, and I'm about to lead (albeit WI 2) with a half-rope system for the first time. What could go wrong? ;-)
I finished gearing up while Paul set up a belay anchor, flaked his yellow rope, while Chris flaked the blue one.
The belay was set up, I tied in and started off.
As I traversed out from the belay, I became acutely aware that the damn leash around one wrist was going to be a pain! I couldn't match on the traverse!
Ok, think back on when I first started climbing ice, and the thought of a leash seemed like a good idea; fast forward to now and I can't think of one good reason to have a leash on my wrist. ;-)
A tether to the tool itself isn't a bad idea (not that I have one), but I'm no longer a fan of the leash that was attached to me!
Something else I noticed right away was the weight of the pack. Ugh. The idea of finishing the lead with the steep finish quickly left my thought process!
I did my best for good foot placement while placing screws, but my calves were still screaming at me because of the added weight.
(Hmmm…how many more complaints do I have?)
Oh yeah, the damn leash constricted the blood flow to my hand (so obviously I forgot about shaking out and maybe I was gripping too hard).
Stupid leash. ;-)
So what could go wrong?
Well, nothing really went wrong with the lead (except for the dropped screamer at the third screw), so overall it was a lot like a good fun (but slightly different) experience.
I get to the top, build my anchor, clip in, pull up slack on both ropes, and put my partners on belay.
I use a BD (Black Diamond) ATC Guide (not shown in the above picture), so belaying a second, or in this case both of my partners on their simul-climb, becomes an easier task because of its self-locking nature.
(NOTE: I recommend you have someone show you how an ATC Guide works before attempting to belay a second for the first time.)
This was also my first experience for belaying simul-climbers and belaying using half-ropes, but it was easy enough to determine which rope had slack to be pulled.
Now the rope management was another thing, so I'm not going to show that picture!
It was 11am by the time the three of us were on top, un-roped, and had our gear off and stashed.
Now for the hike.
We started off into the amphitheater by way of a narrow slot like gully. We did see some cairns here and there, so I'm assuming we were on the "summer route" for this peak.
It was getting quite warm as we hiked deeper into the amphitheater, and a delayering was in order.
Chris looking "strong"
A look at one of the couloirs back in the amphitheater; looks fun! I think it's called the Russian Couloir?
In the previous picture, we took open slopes to the left that's devoid of snow. That in itself was a hellish hike over big scree that wishes it were talus. Not the greatest footing in the world, but given the weather we were enjoying in January, what does it matter?
Not to say we weren't happy to be above and beyond that nastiness and onto the benchmark above, where it was a mellow stroll to the summit.
Some clouds, some mountains.
And some other dudes.
We were on the summit by 1:40pm with no one else in sight. I thought this was a popular 14er?
Maybe we were a little late. Damn.
We descended the way we came, arrived back to our gear stash (ropes, ice climbing equipment), and were soon back to the car by 4pm.
Nice day for the middle of January!
And a great day out with a couple of friends!
Thanks for reading,
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):